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Top Stories on Health Care Reform

Euthanasia. Rationing. Socialism.

As the health care debate boiled over last week, reporting on the competing claims from opponents and advocates of reform overwhelmed news coverage across the country, and even made it overseas. While some publications did little more than record the daily developments, others took a hard-nosed look at the facts behind both sides' arguments. Our community spent the week reviewing these stories, finding those that attempted to clear the air of myth and misinformation to be the most effective.

Our top story came from PolitiFact, which gave Sarah Palin a "Pants on Fire" (NT reviews) rating for writing on her Facebook page that seniors and the disabled will have to "stand in front of Obama's 'death panel," where bureaucrats will decide if they are worthy of health care. "We agree with Palin that such a system would be evil," PolitiFact said, after scrutinizing the 1000-plus pages of the Democratic health care bill. "But it's definitely not what President Barack Obama or any other Democrat has proposed."

Palin's claim didn't survive NewsTrust's vetting, either. We compared a Daily Beast op-ed (NT reviews) and a Washington Post interview (NT reviews) with Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, and found that, in Sen. Isakson's words, the "death panel" remark was "nuts."

Several major British sources defended their own country's health care system last week against conservative criticisms of it being "socialist" and "Orwellian." The Guardian reported (NT reviews) on the controversy:

"Top-ranking Republicans have joined bloggers and well-funded free market organisations in scorning the NHS for its waiting lists and for 'rationing' the availability of expensive treatments.

As myths and half-truths circulate, British diplomats in the US are treading a delicate line in correcting falsehoods while trying to stay out of a vicious domestic dogfight over the future of American health policy."

The Independent, meanwhile, took the opportunity to cover (NT reviews) the LA Forum in Inglewood, Calif., where thousands of Americans went to receive free dental and medical exams last week. The forum, the Independent wrote, reflected the "brutal truth" about U.S. health care:

"In the week that Britain's National Health Service was held aloft by Republicans as an 'evil and Orwellian' example of everything that is wrong with free healthcare, these extraordinary scenes in Inglewood, California yesterday provided a sobering reminder of exactly why President Barack Obama is trying to reform the US system ...

In America, the offer of free healthcare is so rare, that news of the magical medical kingdom spread rapidly and long lines of prospective patients snaked around the venue for the chance of getting everyday treatments that many British people take for granted."

The BBC asked (NT reviews) if the protests outside the town halls across the country were "grassroots" or "astroturf," and the Christian Science Monitor offered an informative "Health Reform 101" (NT reviews) that gave a cursory overview of the provisions in the health reform bills.

One of our top rated opinions took a skeptical view of health insurance reform as it now stands. The Wall Street Journal rejected (NT reviews) current proposals that insurers "cover anyone at any time and at nearly uniform rates:"

"ObamaCare would impose on all 50 states rules that have already proven to be failures in numerous states. Because these mandates would raise the cost of insurance, ObamaCare would then turn around and subsidize individuals to buy the insurance that the politicians made more expensive. Only in government could such irrationality be sold as 'reform.'"

This week: Afghanistan with Worldfocus

This week, NewsTrust is joining forces with WNET’s Worldfocus and its viewers to find quality news and opinion on Afghanistan.

As Afghanistan prepares for its second ever presidential election, we’re looking for good journalism about this troubled nation, and how its many challenges also impact its neighbors and the international community.

To join our Afghanistan News Hunt, review a story on our Afghanistan page.


-- Derek Hawkins, with Fabrice Florin, Kaizar Campwala and Joey Baker



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